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Inter-Korean October 4th Joint Declaration legacy...10 years on Updated: 2017-10-04 16:32:39 KST

June 15th, 2000, the leaders of the two Koreas, President Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-il, reached a landmark joint declaration that hoped to bring the peninsula a significant step closer to peace and reunification.

But by 2006, Pyongyang carried out its first nuclear bomb test, putting all reconciliation efforts at risk.
Kim Dae-jung's successor, President Roh Moo-hyun, reached out to North Korea and on October 4th 2007, a new joint declaration was agreed to get back on track towards peace.

"If the first inter-Korean summit and declaration were about establishing a new relationship between the two Korea's, the second declaration was about reinforcing and driving home that relationship and cooperation."

The October 4 declaration outlined 8 points of cooperation including carrying out the previous June 15 declaration, ending military hostilities, and working towards a permanent peace treaty.
It also included economic, cultural, and humanitarian cooperative projects, such as expanding reunions for war separated families and holding more inter-Korean talks.

However, the declaration was never fully realized, with timing being one of the biggest obstacles.
Just two months after the declaration was signed, Roh's term finished and Lee Myung-bak won the presidential election, starting two consecutive administrations of conservative rule that would eventually lead to all economic, humanitarian and communication ties with North Korea being cut.
Four years later, Kim Jong-il died, putting his son Kim Jong-un at the helm of the regime, leading to a step up in its nuclear weapons program in an attempt to consolidate his power and authority.

During these last ten years, North Korea carried out 5 more nuclear tests, almost a hundred missile launches, and faced 15 UN Security Council resolutions.
Although at various times both South and North Korea have called on each other to respect and fulfill the June 15th, October 4th, and other joint declarations, the relationship has only grown further apart.

"The greatest change to the inter-Korean relationship has become the nuclear one. In the past it might have been possible to bring security and peace through building friendly ties, but now the North's nukes are the primary issue that stands in the way, of peace, of inter-Korean ties and relations with the U.S. as well."

When President Moon Jae-in came into office in May this year, there had been hopes that the liberal president would be able to improve relations with the North, especially as a disciple of the late Roh Moo-hyun, who engineered the October 4th declaration.
But with Pyongyang continuing its nuclear ambitions, and Kim Jong-un's spiraling war of words with Donald Trump, tensions on the peninsula have reached unprecedented levels, leaving Moon struggling to make a break-through and pick up where the declaration left off.
Hwang Hojun, Arirang News.
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